Candlelight is calming, flattering, and conducive to relaxation and romance. This homemade bamboo candelabra will bring a Zen charm to any outdoor entertainment area. Even better, this project is easy enough for the "craft-impaired" in all of us. Once you gather the supplies — the Internet is particularly helpful here — the assembly is a cinch.
Step 1: Choose the Right Size
Before you begin any household craft project, think about where you want the finished product to go. For this bamboo candelabra, an outdoor setting works best. Select a site on a patio table or porch railing and measure how much space is available for the candelabra. This will be important when deciding how much bamboo to buy.
Step 2: Buy the Supplies
Here's what you need:
- bamboo poles, 3 inches (8 centimeters) in diameter and long enough to cut into the desired number and height of candle holders
- 2 bendable metal rods (aluminum, copper or brass work well), 0.12 inches (3 millimeters) in diameter and 24 inches (61 centimeters) long
- terra cotta plates, 3 inches in diameter, one for each of your candle holders
- candles, approximately 2 inches (5 centimeters) in diameter and no longer than 5 inches (13 centimeters)
- wood glue
Bamboo poles of various diameters can be purchased online or at a well-stocked craft or hardware store. Bendable soft metal rods can also be purchased online or at a local hobby and craft store.
Step 3: Gather the Tools
- box cutter or razor blade
- fine-toothed hand saw
- fine grain sandpaper
- drill with 1/8 inch drill bit
- wire cutters
Keep reading for step-by-step instructions for building this beautiful bamboo candelabra.
Cutting and Drilling the Bamboo Candelabra
Once you've bought the supplies and gathered the right tools, it's time to get to work.
Step 4: Cut the Bamboo
Cut the bamboo pole into the desired height and number of candle holders. If you know the finished length of the candelabra in inches, divide it by three (the diameter of the bamboo pole) and cut that many pieces of bamboo. Each piece needs to be the same length. We recommend 12 inches (30 centimeters) or less to prevent it from toppling over.
- Using a ruler, make pencil marks along the bamboo pole for each cut.
- Using the box cutter or razor blade, score the bamboo along the pencil mark.
- With light pressure, saw the bamboo along the score lines, careful to avoid splintering (a vise or clamp is useful for holding the bamboo still).
- Sand the cut ends of bamboo gently to make them smooth.
Step 5: Drill Holes in Bamboo
The candelabra gets its shape from two bendable metal rods running through the top and bottom of each piece of bamboo. Before you can insert the rods, you need to drill holes.
- Using a ruler, measure 2 inches (5 centimeters) from both the top and bottom of a piece of bamboo and make a pencil mark.
- Do the same thing on the exact opposite side of the bamboo.
- Holding the bamboo firmly with your hand or a vise, carefully drill holes through each pencil mark.
- Repeat for each piece of bamboo.
Now we're ready to assemble and glue the final product. Keep reading for more step-by-step instructions.
Assembling and Gluing the Bamboo Candelabra
You're almost there! Follow these final step-by-step instructions to finish your bamboo candelabra.
Step 6: Insert the Metal Rods
The metal rods hold the standing pieces of bamboo together and give the candelabra its shape. Because the rods are bendable, you can shape the candelabra into an S-curve, a rainbow arc or even a full circle.
- Line up your pieces of bamboo on a flat surface.
- Thread one metal rod through the two holes on the top of the bamboo. Keep threading until the rod runs through all of the bamboo pieces.
- Repeat with the second metal rod and the two bottom holes of each piece of bamboo.
- Stand up the bamboo pieces and slide them together so they're touching side by side.
- Shape the candelabra to your desired form.
- Using wire cutters, cut the rods so that only 2 inches (5 centimeters) is sticking out of each end.
- Use the pliers to bend the rod ends at right angles to hold the bamboo pieces securely together.
Step 7: Glue on Plates and Candles
This is the last step! When using glue products, make sure you're in a well-ventilated space.
- Working with one bamboo candle holder at a time, apply a thin strip of wood glue to the top, center a terra cotta plate and press down firmly, holding for 10 seconds.
- Repeat with each piece of bamboo, then let the glue dry for 30 minutes.
- Make a pea-size droplet of glue in the center of each terra cotta plate and glue on the candles one by one, holding firmly for 10 seconds each.
- Let the glue dry for 30 minutes before bringing outside.
If you want to add some color to the candelabra, you could stain each piece of bamboo with a dark brown or ruddy wood stain. If your candelabra will be exposed to the elements, consider an application of water repellent or water seal for wood.
Author's Note: How to Make a Bamboo Candelabra
Craftiness sneaks up on you. A few years ago, I ranked among the top 10 un-craftiest individuals in the Northern Hemisphere. But then we bought a house. And when you are a homeowner of humble means (but ironically high tastes) you need to improvise. Together with my wife — another crafting rookie — we've cobbled together some more-than-passable attempts at homemade home decor. The latest is a bathroom window screen made from a square of colorful fabric dangling between two wooden rods. If you look too closely, you'll spot the uneven stitching, but if you're a normal person, it looks great. Personally, I have no need for a bamboo candelabra, but I could see its Pier 1 appeal. With three little kids, I try not to bring anything flammable within 50 yards of the house.